Feeds

Windows RT still haunted by the ghost of Microsoft's 2001 tablet fiasco

Make laptops or fondleslabs: the fondletop can't work

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Comment Microsoft's Windows is coming to tablets again, showing that a fondleslab can do anything a laptop can. Yet not all Windows tablets are equal, and Microsoft is relying on our ongoing obsession with physical keyboards to ensure that Windows RT remains secondary to the flagship full-fat Windows 8 operating system.

It's not the first time Microsoft has tried to push keyboard-free computing - Bill Gates was convinced Windows on tablet PCs was a sure-fire bet in 2001. However, repeating what happened last time, the hardware manufacturers will again churn out hybrid devices that do it all, mostly by bolting keyboards onto touchscreen gadgets and turning them into slightly inferior laptops.

Microsoft hopes its own Surface laptop-cum-tablets will ease punters onto touch-only computing by providing something recognisably keyboard-like that can be quickly discarded once the user is comfortable with the finger-driven desktop interface.

But when a device has a keyboard attached to it punters will use it as a laptop no matter how clever or innovative the hinge-click-swivel-spin mechanism is between the screen and the keys. We saw this with the original Windows for tablets where hybrid PCs adorned many executives' desks, promising the best of both worlds but ultimately delivering a slightly inferior version of one of them.

Hybrid users quickly stopped switching between modes and tablets became overpriced laptops and then disappeared entirely. It's hard to see why the new generation of hybrids should fare any different: once the novelty has worn off it's just a laptop with a bigger hinge.

The Vadem Clio

Even the most twisty of hybrids, the Vadem Clio, didn't make it

But Microsoft can't afford for Surface, or any Windows RT device, to go the same way - not least because its Office suite will be bundled and sold with the machines. Microsoft wants RT to glide into the market slot created by Apple for the iPad: an addition to a Windows 8 laptop, not a replacement for one.

When the Asus Transformer was launched, an Android tablet with detachable keyboard, people labelled it a laptop replacement, but in fact most Transformer keyboards are collecting dust in drawers these days, their touchscreens smudged by fingertips and their owners using laptops for professional work.

Microsoft actually hopes the same will happen to Surface and the rest of the Windows RT bunch. By providing a facsimile of a keyboard, Microsoft reckons buyers will snap up RT-powered Surface slabs to replace laptops - and later miss the depth of a real keyboard and the familiar clamshell form factor of a laptop. At least then punters will be able to console themselves that they now have a pleasant enough tablet to go with the new Windows 8 laptop they'll have to buy.

It would be nice to think that tablet users will realise a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse can make a laptop superfluous, or that the Bluetooth version of Handykey will finally arrive and release us all from the tyranny of qwerty. That would be a real revolution in computing, but not one that would be welcomed by Microsoft. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
Just in case? Unverified 'supersize me' iPhone 6 pics in sneak leak peek
Is bigger necessarily better for the fruity firm's flagship phone?
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.